India's team for the tour of West Indies look solid, with some quality stars in both the batting and bowling department. Virat Kohli and co. are now prepared to face Jason Holder's team in the first Test in Antigua, starting Thursday. The visitors should be considered favourites to emerge victorious in the five-day affair, but West Indies cannot be taken lightly at home.
It remains to be seen if Kohli, who has played with five bowlers in the past, adopts a similar approach in the first Test, considering the pitch is going to be dry and slow. Though batsmen need to score runs in the longer format of the game, the bowlers have to take 20 wickets to defeat their opponent.
India have some brilliant batsmen, with Kohli being the number one, hence the West Indies bowlers need to be on top of their game against the right-hander and others strokemakers. On top of that, the home team batsmen will have to deal with India's good bowling attack as well. Hence, there are plenty of clashes to look forward to in the first Test.
Here are some of the key clashes for the 1st Test
Murali Vijay vs Shannon Gabriel:
The first hour of any innings with the new ball is always going to be important in Test cricket. Vijay will be keen to see off the new ball and Gabriel would focus on providing early breakthoughs for West Indies. This clash is an interesting one, with Vijay set to use his sound technique. He leaves the ball outside the off stump quite well, so the bowler has to make him play, and produce an error. But Gabriel has to be careful in not bowling at his pads, as Vijay is a strong player on the leg side.
Virat Kohli vs Devendra Bishoo
Kohli is India's best batsman, and Bishoo is West Indies' spin option. What a contest we have on our hands. If India will look to Kohli to score maximum runs, the home side will want their legspinner to weave his magic. This series will be important for Kohli, who has a poor record in the West Indies, scoring 76 runs in three Tests, and he will be keen to make amends this time around. For that to happen, he has to deal with Bishoo as he will be keen to use the slow tracks in Antigua and spin the ball away from the right-hander.
R Ashwin vs Darren Bravo
With the pitch expected to favour slower bowlers, Ashwin must have his plans ready against all the West Indies batsmen, primarily Bravo. The first Test result could well be determined by how this duel shapes up, as Ashwin is India's trump card and Bravo is West Indies' classy batsman, and he also scored some important runs, including a century in the Test series against Australia in Dec. 2015-Jan. 2016. If Ashwin gets the ball to grip the surface, the left-hander can be in all sorts of trouble with his sharp turn. But mind you, Bravo has it in him to tackle everything that is thrown at him.
Ishant Sharma vs Marlon Samuels
Both the players love playing an aggressive brand of cricket, and will give their best to find success. Ishant will be India's key pacer in the West Indies, and Samuels will play an important role on this tour with the bat in the absence of players like Chris Gayle. Ishant is a wonderful bowler when he gets his line and length right, but he has to be careful against Samuels, who has it in him to play long innings, scoring big hundreds, thus tiring the lanky fast bowler. Though Samuels is expected to bat in the middle order, Ishant can also trouble the batsman with his reverse swing when the ball gets old, which could lead to a riveting contest.